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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  March 17, 2012 7:00am-9:00am PDT

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professional. cfp. let's make a plan. a small group arrives at united nations in geneva this week pleading for help with an increasingly oppressive election system in their own country. they were americans. and women as political weapons? why both parties should back up off of us. plus, want proof that tv didn't kill the radio star? 93% of americans are hearing without seeing. but first, what newt gingrich with learn from henry clay and ron paul can learn from william jennings bryan and what all of us need to know about the art of the lost cause. good morning. happy st. patrick's day. i'm melissa harris-perry. newt gingrich may have called him the tortoise, but it's mitt
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romney who continues to make the slow and steady march to win delegates. yet looking ahead to puerto rico and illinois primaries this week, the plotting pace of his forward march might be why it seems that his rivals are the only ones actually moving. because rick santorum has the momentum of conservative voter wind at his back and newt gingrich has energy, as we heard from both candidates this week. >> we clearly were changing the national dialogue all week. if you'll notice, the president has now made three speeches and a press conference on energy. >> this is a grass roots campaign for president. who would have ever thought, in the age of media that we have in this country today, that ordinary folks from across this country can defy the odds day in, day out. >> now, wait. before you dismiss what you just heard as the latest batch of sound bites from guys who according to the recent polls
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are facing a long road to ever make it to the white house, consider this -- one day those words may reverberate throughout history. no, no. really. if i asked you to name some of history's greatest men, you might think of thomas jefferson who, with "we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal" wrote our nation into existence in the declaration of independence. maybe you'd think of abraham lincoln, the great eman pater who immoralalized the words "fourscore and seven years ago." maybe even the great communicator ronald reagan who ushered in the end of the cold war era who demanded, tear down this wall. but if i said to you, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold, you're drawing a blank, rig right? it that's one of the most famous political speeches, from williams jennings bryan speaking in 1896 in opposition to the gold standard. bryan was an evangelical
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christian who changed the democratic party for a progressive source for good. and you likely wouldn't recognize any words from henry clay. but this founder of what would become the republican party was known as the great compromiser for his negotiation of several legislative compromises that held the union together for decades before abraham lincoln rose to prominence. both men played critical roles in our history and both ran and lost three times for the u.s. presidency. now, they are in good company with men like add ally stevenson and barry goldwater and al gore, all presidential losers. but all among the most accomplished and influential citizens of their age, many of whom changed american history forever. and as we move forward toward the inevitable conclusion of the gop primary, there will be more losers to add to that list. here with me is scott ferris, the author of "almost president" the men who lost the race but changed the nation. scott, i'm so happy to have you here today. >> thank you. great pleasure to be here on
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your great new show. >> thank you. well, i'm really excited about your book, which i picked up this week. it was spring break so i had a chance to do some reading. and i am compelled by this idea that losers nonetheless have a critically important place in american history. i want to start with our most recent loser, john mccain, who wrote an op-ed in "usa today" making his case really for u.s. intervention in syria. and in doing so actually quoted a presidential winner bill clinton writing, there are still times, president clinton said, when america and america alone can and should make the difference for peace. so he's saying that these words are true today and so we have too stop the slaughter. now, it seems like john mccain, the most recent guy to lose the presidency, is nonetheless working very, very hard here to secure his legacy. is that what's happening? >> it is i think. he started reclaiming the past sort of the mantle that was passed on to the loser. they became the official spokesperson for the party out of power.
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unlike a parliamentary democracy, we don't have an official opposition leader. mccain has been one of the harsher critics of president obama because he's breaking will mold. think about dukakis and dole, they kind of exited stage left and left the scene. mccain is trying to stay relevant as kerry and gore have as well. >> it's interesting on this question of this desire to stay relevant. we've got john mccain here who obviously was himself already a great legislator, eastbouven ha never run for president, ran and lost to george w. bush in a primary, again ran and lost against president obama so really has multiple runs and losses behind him. and now we are talking about, in our foreign policy, the thing driving our discourse in many ways is what john mccain is telling us we need to be talking about. so how common is this? i mean, michael dukakis not so much, but john mccain. >> it is. like i said, if you go back to the naenl19th century, williamsn
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and clay who were their party's spokesmen for decades. it seemed like after world war ii it was a change of perspective, maybe television's fault or fast pace of the world, it seems like even though you had a successful political career, you lose the biggest race in the world, you're stigmatized a's loser and you don't want to be reminded of failure so you bring on someone new. as you mengtioned, gore and fols trying find new roles. >> speaking of someone who we might really think of as a loser, let's talk about newt gingrich. i say that because obviously he was also extremely powerful in the house. he keeps coming back somehow. we keep finding him again on the public stage. and right now newt gingrich is trying to shift the discourse, even within the context of a race it looks like he is going to lose, to talk about gas prices. i just want to listen quickly to newt gingrich here. >> here's the sad thing.
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lately we've heard a lot of profession aal politicians, a l of the folks who are, you know, running for a certain office, who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy. they must have been founding members of the flat earth society. they would not have believed that worthe world was round. >> pretty obviously that's not nus gingrich. that was actually president obama who won the american presidency but who in that moment was actually speaking back to newt gingrich, a man who is going to lose his party's nomination. so is newt gingrich henry clay here? is he setting the agenda? >> i think he's more like williams jennings bryan. trying to come up with big ideas to inspire. if he was the nominee and did lose that, he would be setting a new direction for the republican
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party in sort of sensing this big government conservatism, using government for social engineering and big projects, maybe a different way than, say, democrats would, but still taking the party in a slightly different direction. if he became the dominant voice for the parry, he is setting the tone for how the party reacts over the next four years. >> what's sort of extraordinary about this particular crop of republican candidates, rick santorum is already lost his senate reelection bid. obviously newt gingrich has been out of office for quite some time. mitt romney attempted to win the apply marry before. so in a way this is a whole group of people who have not had the kind of final success moment. >> that's true. an t's an usual array of candidates for the republican party but also the party is in a very interesting case. which if this is a losing campaign for republicans, which polling indicates it may be, it's very important because it will set the direction for the party for a while. are they going to be small government like ron paul, almost libertarian, big government like newt gingrich, back to the moral
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and cultural issues like rick an storm or content with the status quo, which i think mitt romney represents. >> i want to read one quick quote to you from the book. it is this -- it is from bryan's friend right after bryan loses to william mckinley. owe writes of bryan on the night of the election, it's a terrible thing to look upon a strong man in the pride of youth and see him gather up in his hands the ashes of great ambition. we're going to take a break. but when we come back, i want to talk about how these losing candidates actually gather up these ashes of great ambition and often manage to make something of it. we'll be right back after this. i love that my daughter's part fish. but when she got asthma, all i could do was worry ! specialists, lots of doctors, lots of advice... and my hands were full. i couldn't sort through it all. with unitedhealthcare, it's different.
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today the spring thaw brings with it the rurp of occupy wall street protestors to zuccotti park. they'll gather to commemorate the six-month mark since they first took up residence in lower manhattan and gave life to a movement. the original momentum went into a deep freeze when temperatures dropped over the winter. i think that's part of the process. you sort of survive a series of setbacks and failures as al gore famously reminded the nation in his 2000 concession speech. >> no matter how hard the loss, defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out. >> defeat may serve as well as victory. and i'd add that actually a series of small losses may serve as one big win in a movement toward meaningful dhang. still with me, author scott ferris. joining us is alison kilkenny,
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reporter for "in the times and the nation". thank you both. before the break, alison, we were talking about specifically losing presidential candidates. i want to talk about them a bit still but broaden this out about losing social movements, the way in which we start big processes but sometimes fail sometimes on the road to success and just sometimes on the road to more set backs. >> and sometimes failing isn't a bad thing because it creates breathing space in our society where a group like occupy wall street can come along and ferment and grow. you can't draw a straight line from ralph nader to occupy wall street. but leftists give kids hope and give them eye reason to not quit. seeing the ripple effect during occupy wall street where the president calls economic fairness the dpien kboocombinin our time in the state of the union address. presidents are usually so proud we don't talk about class, this
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is america because anybody can achieve anything, george washington and apple pie. >> because george washington and apple pie, none sec wa ter, but that's the reason. >> whatever. this is america. but occupy wall street put these issues on the front page so the president felt safe getting up there and say, i know we never talk about class, but we need to start talking about class because millions have lost their homes, wall street got an enormous handout and are handing out bonuses. occupy wall street put the issues on the front page. >> sure. i'm convinced that part of the reason we don't talk about failure in our political system is because we tell our social movement stories iny and collea kelly whose book "right to ride" about the age of cam com daigs, the booker t. washington moments where apparently african-americans didn't really push back. she in her book really writes, no, this is about the age of thwarted resistance, people were pushing back, people were
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resisting. they just lost, right? and they lost over and over and over again until the moment when the 1960s civil rights movement and the selma march finally leads then-president lbj to do what president obama did vis-a-vis occupy, which is to bring the language of the social movement into the well of congress, right, into the presidency. let me ask you one question, though, about failing presidential candidates, in this case a failing vice presidential candidate. sarah palin it seems to me that, despite being a loser, is an enormous agenda setting winner. so she loses in 2008 as the vice president, but then in 2010 she becomes the queen maker for all of these congressional races, right? sarah palin goes in and endorses nicki haley and mary fallon and suzanne martinez and the next thing you know, sarah palin, who lost the american vice president is nonetheless winning in 2010.
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is this a common aspect, or is this an exceptional, extraordinary loser in the system? >> no. it's actually fairly common. often losers inspire new groups of people to get vinvolved in politics. she brought aloft new people into the process. that's pretty typical. let's think of one of the most famous failures, george mcgovern in 1972. everything thought it was a disaster, what good came out of the mcgovern campaign? what that campaign did is create the new democrat coalition. he said, we've got to bring in women, minorities, one of the first candidates reaching out to gays. that coalition, republicans derided it, but what was the coalition who elected barack obama? this new coalition of women, young children, activists. so mcgovern inspired new people to get involved but it took a while for that coalition to mature and become a powerful force.
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>> the mcgovern coalition and another failure of rules. it's also jesse jackson's rules. so those changes in how delegates were selected, choices made in part because of the '84 and '88 campaign fz jesse jackson so that in that night in grant park when we're watching jesse jackson weep about barack obama's election to the u.s. president certainly part of that is the racial narrative, the first black president. but the other part is, this man laid the ground work, right, despite failing to become president twice. >> exactly. >> i'm struck by how these fail presidential hopefuls have this sort of default outsider status. they're put in a place where they have to push back against an establishment that has rejected them more or less. much talk about women outcasts, talking about emma goldman, jones. any of these outciders who weren't perhaps running for president obviously but that status put them in a position to challenge authority. that creates that breathing room
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i was talking about where coalitions later down the road feel like, you know, we have a chance here. maybe we can work with the legacy we've been handed. >> then of course there is that ultimate woman outsider who becomes insider, that's hillary clinton who actually does run for the u.s. presidency, obviously loses it, but despite losing, has something to say about what her legacy is likely to be. this is so much of your book talking about concession speeches. i wanted to take a quick listen to hillary clinton's concession. >> although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it's got about 18 million cracks in it. and the light is shining through like never before. >> the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. the concession speeches you say, scott, are critical to american democracy.
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what happens in that moment when the guy or the woman who loses concedes, tell me why it's so important. >> well, because losers are what make democracy work. as some smarter political scientists said than i, winners can't govern without the losers consent. if the losers refuse to accept the results of an election, what do you have? in 2008, tremendous disappointment to governor clinton, it united the party. in the general election, the same thing happens. we're badly divided, seems like we're almost a bloodless civil war during a presidential election. so it has to be the loser who comes out and he really concedes, the winner can't declare victory. the loser concedes defeat first. then there's that important moment, we have to come together as america, continue to fight for the cause. but for the good of the country we have to accept the legitimacy of this election and move forward. >> anybody who's been watching "game change," there's the spoiler alert but there's that
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moment where john mccain's character is saying to sarah palin's character, you don't get to get up and say anything on this night because concession speeches are too important to the stability of american democracy. >> right. and that's the interesting thing about not knowing how moments like that are going to affect the future. you know, and it's interesting, like especially with your book and what's so fascinating about it to me, you never know how these separate individuals are going to snowball into a great cultural shift. and i truly believe we're seeing that right now with occupy wall street. and occupy wall street is a culmination of all of the leaders who came before them, you know, whether we're talking about more establishment figures like ralph nader, hillary clinton, people like this. or we're talking about true outsiders, emma goldman, rosa parks, martin luther king. all of these people played a part in what we're seeing right now with this amazing moment in our history. >> so would you characterize occupy at this point as failing but failing for some greater good or longer good?
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or is there still a possibility to think of this as winnable? >> that's what's really interesting. speaking with occupiers, they don't like to say, we're the end game. they always say, this is the beginning, just starting. before i was covering occupy wall street i was covering another group called u.s. uncut, an anticorporate tax dodging group. people were asking me, is this it? is this end time? >> is this the revolution we've all been waiting for? and will it be televised? >> it's all leading to something. is occupy wall street the answer to all of our questions and our hopes? probably not, but it's definitely leading to a big cultural shift. >> i think every new idea takes time to be accepted by the general public. i don't 30's a single major government program that didn't start with a losing campaign or small movement. it has to grow in acceptance. it just takes a while. back to williams jennings bryan, he was considered such a
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radicalist. everything he advocated, old age pensions, worker safety, women's suffrage became the law of the land within a couple of decades. >> scott ferris, you can come back to nerdland any old time. alison is going to hang out with us a little bit longer. up next, the day that changed american politics. [ male announcer ] this is lois. the day starts with arthritis pain... a load of new listings... and two pills. after a morning of walk-ups, it's back to more pain, back to more pills. the evening showings bring more pain and more pills. sealing the deal... when, hang on... her doctor recommended aleve. it can relieve pain all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is lois... who chose two aleve and fewer pills for a day free of pain.
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in 1960, the face of american politics changed, the first televised presidential debate. from the vault this week, a look behind the scenes as the candidates tried to grasp this powerful new medium. >> what is the cut means, that's out, five seconds? >> get out gracefully. >> what i mean is, you want to quit quickly? >> we think when you see 30 seconds -- >> all right. >> then howard we'll give you a few seconds over the cut, then -- >> sure. sure. >> come on! >> hear me now speaking, is that about the right tone of voice? >> audience at home saw a big difference between the makeup wearing telegenic snootor john f. kennedy and the stiff and sweaty vice president richard nixon. the televised viewers were sure kennedy came out ahead. but those who listened on the radio, nixon seemed to win. the kennedy/nixon debate marks the point where television
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became the dominating medium in politics and every candidate had to play to it. but it's not to say the radio died on that day. in fact, radio went on to survive, to thrive and morph and take on new spheres of political influence as powerful as ever in this current presidential election. when we come back, we'll explain why radio is so powerful. diarrhea, gas or bloating? get ahead of it! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap a day helps defend against digestive issues with three strains of good bacteria. hit me! [ female announcer ] live the regular life. phillips'. [ female announcer ] live the regular life. for a hot dog cart. my mother said, "well, maybe we ought to buy this hot dog cart and set it up someplace." so my parents went to bank of america. they met with the branch manager and they said, "look, we've got this little hot dog cart, and it's on a really good corner. let's see if we can buy the property." and the branch manager said, "all right, i will take a chance with the two of you." and we've been loyal to bank of america for the last 71 years.
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15 million viewers a week. 14 million viewers a week. heck, a few million viewers a week. that's great. those numbers would sure make my bosses happy. those are christina aguilera on "the voice" type of numbers. but public radio and conservative talk radio hosts are banking those numbers on an average week. talking about politics and current events, and their audiences are growing. in fact, candidates know where to capture voters' ears. while tv may still got the lion's share of political ad dollars, candidates are spending
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substantial parts of their war chests on radio. mitt romney has spent tens of thousands on radio buys for the upcoming primary in illinois while rick santorum supporters have poured hundreds of thousands on radio ads to target the loyalists to talk radio. for all of television's prominence and the excitement about social media, radio, the granddaddy of all electronic communications remains a powerful medium, talk the power of radio with me here is a panel of radio hosts. ester arma is the host of wvai's morning show, also an author and playwright. we have the host of the brian mare show, and alison kilkenny, a reporter for "the nation" and host. i'm thrilled to have you here. i think i've been a guest on all of your shows at some point or another. i must prefer radio because i can do it in fuzzy slippers and no makeup. that makes radio great. >> don't tell your bosses.
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>> no, just as a guest, if i could do this show in fuzzy slippers and no makeup, i absolutely would. but it seems to me that radio is inherently democratic with a little "d." i don't mean liberal. i mean democratic. and wondering what it means about the medium of radio that gives topics sort of room to breathe and so many people an opportunity to engage with it. >> well, especially what i do, i'm a podcast radio host, which is fun because people don't even really understand my medium. relatives are, like, so what channel can i listen to you on? then i'm just sad. yeah, it is interesting because on the internet there's a two-way conversation all the time, and there's not this hierarchy. you know, people tweet me, e-mail me, and it sounds like we're old friends. they're kind of like, why don't you cover this? at first i was, like, don't tell me how to do my show. but then i realized that's really positive. that's a good thing. they don't feel like there are walls up. maybe because it's more of like
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a conversation when you're on the radio. you do need that back-and-forth. otherwise it gets really boring, sort of delivering a monolog every week. you do need a rapport with your audience. >> the audience feeling is part of it. >> remember that song "video killed the radio star"? the visual changes everything. i think the magic of the voice, it's not just that it is interdependent but that it's intimate. tv absolutely demands distance and there's an elevation of the people who are around the table and who are looking into the camera. there's a specific distance created that is very different than the radio. and i think that the way that the voice conveys emotion and information speaks into the soul of somebody differently than the tv does. and that you can do radio. you can listen to radio and be doing 20 different other things and feel engage and involved and part of a conversation. and i think for radio the audience is participating in the medium, whereas with television you're literally watching somebody else do the work.
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>> for me, talking about dog something else, what i'm almost always doing is driving. it's on my commute, right? i'm listening to it, i listen to one station with the kids in the car and then turn over to my other station, listen to my news and information. but it's this way of like doing something, engaging my day, but i feel like i'm also pornography everythi -- pouring everything i need into my head. >> there's an upside and downside on people in radio. ester puts her finger on the intimacy of that. you're doing it while you're driving. as we're doing radio, we think, what are people doing? they're really getting ready for their day, making breakfast. they're in the bathroom, they're driving, whatever. so there's a beautiful intimacy to that because people then associate us with kind of the most personal intimate things they do, mostly when they're by themselves. because if you're speaking with another person in person, then you're not listening to the radio generally. but at the same time we have to approach it like every minute or
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every 15 or 20-minute block has to kind of stand on its own. it would be nice if people would sometimes sit down and listen to a show like you go to a theater and sit down and watch a movie from beginning to end or a television show. but we have to be -- >> yes. all of my viewers sit for two hours quietly on their couch taking notes, right? yes. >> especially on saturday morning. >> that's right. on saturday mornings, it's all about them and the nerdland, two straight hours. >> ultimately, it's about the conversation. and television and motion pictures, less so on a program like thshgs but most of television is about having -- showing pictures and radio is about having conversation. so chg of course people think we're friends. >> how does that change election? if it's election night, even a breaking news moment, how is it that my experience of listening to something will be fundamentally different in ow i'm relating to the information. or will it be the same and i'll fill in those images later?
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>> i don't think so. i think when it comes to things like breaking news an political coverage, it's that phrase that a picture tells a thousand words and the image baecomes more important but in a different way. i think radio is about the expanse of the conversation, the going underneath the headline, going into the detail. but when you want the breaking news -- i'm a radio host and i switch on the tv when it comes to breaking news. it's an automatic pushback. also, the evolution of the times means the way we consume media is different. if you think about the history of radio, people would literally sit around a space and be tuned in to the radio and there would be silence and they would just listen to the radio from beginning to end with no interruptions. the way that we consume media is so undmentally differently that the way we do radio has to change. when it comes to breaking news, people take their sources from a range of different spaces, one of which the first of which often is television, then they may pick up social media, facebook, twitter. there's all these other spaces
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to go to. >> that's interesting because i'm not sure it's the same for conservatives and liberals. i think conservatives are much more isolated with their media consumption. obviously it goes both way, but chances are if you're on planet rush limbaugh, like, you're on planet rush limbaugh. >> a scary planet. >> yes. it's terrifying when you think about stuff like election coverage. rush limbaugh and those shows are still talking about climategate, debunked by every panel and investigation. but if you're that isolated with media consumption, chances are you haven't had a chance to have that debunked in your mind. >> interesting that you make this point about liberal channels and conservative channels because, you know, npr, which understands itself as a news organization and which has regularly worked very hard to be a news organization, is pretty regularly attacked by conservatives for the purpose of defunding npr and a notion that somehow you end up conservative
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talk radio and npr as though that is the liberal talk radio, but it understands itself as a news organization. >> right. but obviously what we're doing, working for an npr station, is trying to do news. when i do a talk show, i try to define everybody as "us." i don't see us versus them kind of media. so we do specific invites for conservatives to call in on some issues or liberals or we slice it in many, many different ways to try to define everybody as "us." that's part of our mission on "the brian lair show." i think the attacks come, however, because there's an attempt more on the right to delegitimize the news media, to delegitimize neutrality and say, no, that's biased against us. now, it goes on on the left, too, it's just more prominent on the right in this country by trying to delegitimize objectivity or the attempt to be neutral and report all sides, then they're trying to pull
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people to their sides. >> don't change that dial. we're holding the mike. up next we're going to talk more about radio as the political tool. [ female announcer ] with swiffer dusters, a great clean doesn't have to take longer. i'm done. i'm gonna read one of these. i'm gonna read one of these! [ female announcer ] unlike sprays and dust rags, swiffer 360 duster's extender gets into hard-to-reach places without the hassle. so you can get unbelievable dust pickup in less time without missing a thing. i love that book. can you believe the twin did it? ♪ swiffer. great clean in less time. or your money back. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you
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> . [ speaking spanish ] that was craig romney, mitt romney's youngest son, making a spanish language radio pitch for his father in puerto rico, whose primary is tomorrow. now, they say all politics are local and you can't get any more local than radio. from campaign ads to local news and even a sonic flay market. here's alaska's tradio on kbyr-am. >> welcome back. do a little follow-up on
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charles. he wants $3800 for an '06 700 polaris. i don't think you can beat that deal. >> i like lass lals, but for me local radio is all dj, chicken on power 102.9 in new orleans. >> it is thursday, dj chicken. you got any posse? >> out to our teachers giving so much homework. >> to children who don't like their homework and want a good education. >> you're going to need that, brother. >> do you understand what's going on there? on thursdays we call in with our huh-uh and we say huh-uh to whatever hyperlocal thing going on. that is dj chicken and big abe. what we listen to in the radio, my local audio grapevine. with me at the table is a panel of new york's radio hosts,
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esther armah, brian lehrer and ms. kilkenny. what about this idea that radio is democratic with a little "d" but also a hyperlocal space. >> absolutely. radio when it comes to locality is tribal. it gets into literally the streets where people live. it has this specific intimacy that people feel like this is my area, my community, my conversation. i matter. i can contribute. i want to pick up on -- there's a point brian made just before the break around the idea of delegitimizing neutrality which is what the conservative media does. i was saying during the break i disagree. i think neutrality is a fallacy and that what liberal media often does is privilege their perspective and call that objectivity and imply that the facts that your tone is more measured somehow conveys the fact that you are liberal with a small "l". >> you say it in the npr voice. >> absolutely. where conservatism, which is
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that kind of rant, versus a conversation is therefore by definition more partisan. whereas i think both are about privileging a particular perspective. when you get to deep local radio where people feel like the reason dwr they can go head-to-head and toe-to-toe with you as a host, you're in their street. not just in their home, at their street, a different conversation. because it's a different conversation, the way they contribute to that space is very, very different. that's the power of radio. >> that's an interesting point. but i feel like we get into a bit of trouble when we pardon certain news outlets when they fail to do good journalism. like the "new york times" put out those ridiculous public comments where they were asking, should we be truth vigilantes? which was sort of absurd. >> sure, feel free. >> well, we expect you to do your jobs, like fact check. when rush limbaugh lies, tell us he's lying. in that sense, that is sort of an objective thing to do, where it's like, in a functioning society we have to agree on some
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basic truths, like global warming is real and 97% of scientists agree with. that and our media, if it's objective, should tell us that. shouldn't say, well, conserve tichs say this and liberals say that and i guess we'll never know. so in that -- >> because there are some aspects that can be -- that we can bring to bear to understand what things -- some true with a little "t" but certainly facts can be checked. >> right. i do agree in the sense that sometimes civility masquerades as being objective. >> absolutely. >> it's more of a tone thing. that i agree with. >> and truth becomes relative. you know what i mean? a fact check is a different conversation than talking about the truth. because truth in this era is absolutely politicized. so what counts for truth depends on where you sit and stand around the table. at this point, frankly all media fails at some aspect of fact checking and truth telling because people sit on different sides of the table. but i don't think that's not
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okay. i think when you privilege one perspective over the other and call your truth the truth, that becomes problematic. >> i think the key word there is "try." if you're saying that by having a civil tone then you're somehow masking the fact that you're privileging a certain truth, i think, no, it fends on what business you think you're in. you know, if journalism or talk show the way we do it is about trying to get to the fullness of an issue and understanding legitimacy of many points of view or where some things are illegitimate and trying to do that with that fullness, yes, objectivity is unattainable. you have to check your own biases and keep looking yourself in the mirror. but i think it just shows that the so-called liberal media or mainstream media is in a different kind of business than rush limbaugh is in. and they try to delegitimize straight news because it advantages them. >> right. but i want to suggest that someone trying to -- anyone trying to delegitimize npr right now is failing. we were looking at the numbers,
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having ourselves a good time. looking at the fact that right now npr's listenership is growing. they are reaching 33 million weekly as of 2009. and, na fact, morning edition and all things considered have 14 million listeners a week. now, that suggests to me that, for as much as we talk badly about the american populous and we say, they don't like nuance, they don't want npr voice, they want bombastic, the fact is that people are tuning in to long conversations, to issues that breathe and to multiple, complex ways of imagining the world. >> right. people are sick of infotainment. people get turned off and alienated as citizens. there is a real hunger for all of the things you just articulated and npr is hopefully one of the things that provides it. and all public radio. >> thank you so much to my radio hosts for being here and staying with me a little longer. coming up, say stunning development in the death of a
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17-year-old, trevon martin, the phone call that tells a key part of the story.
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martin, does it mean anything to you? if it doesn't, it should. this is trevon martin, a 17-year-old african-american student shot an killed on february 26th. there is still much about this case we don't know. here are the undisputed facts so far. when his killer first saw him, he wasn't break any laws. he was walking down a florida street after 7:00 p.m. after purchasing candy. 28-year-old george zimmerman was on patrol that night, a neighborhood watch. he saw trevon and reported the suspicion to the police. the 911 calls are now online at orlando set nal.com. let's listen. >> this guy looks like he's up
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to no good or on drugs or something. it's raining and he's just walking around looking about. >> pause for a second. walking around and looking about. that's what zimmerman found so suspicious about trevon. let's listen to more of his call. >> is he white, black or hispanic? >> he looks black. >> did you see what he was wearing? >> yeah. a dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie, and either jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes. something's wrong with him. yep, he's coming to check me out. he's got something in his hands. i don't know what his deal is. >> on the 911 call, zimmerman goes on to tell police dispatch that he was following trevon and they told him not to. moments later, trevon martin was dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. zimmerman was questioned. he claimed self-defense and he feared for his life. he has not been arrested. he has not been charged. trevon's family wants justice and are calling for a federal
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investigation. their attorney had this to say. >> we are the standard, and for him not to be arrested is just an atrocity. it's all the world is watching, and we want to know what the sanford police department, the state attorney's office and the state of florida is going to do. all the world is watching to see how this is going to conclude. we want an arrest. it has been more than 17 days. we want an arrest. we want an arrest. how many nights do they have to go to bed knowing that the killer of their son is walking around free? >> and here's where at this point facts remain unknown. when zimmerman stepped out of his vehicle and spoke to trevon, what happened between them. other 911 calls from neighbors indicate that there was some sort of physical altercation, screaming can be heard in the background, and trevon's family says the screams are his. but police maintain that there is not sufficient evidence to show that zimmerman didn't
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really fear for his life. so he remains free. here's why. it's a law called stand your ground. first passed in florida in 2005 and now law in 17 states. it says that a person has the right to stand his or her ground and to meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonableably believes it is necessary to do so to prevenlt death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. laws like that make modern-day vigilanteism that can have these kind of tragic consequences. and let's be clear. this is not an isolated incident. if you go to our blog, you'll see that too many young black men are losing their lives to mistaken identity and overzealous assumptions about their criminal intent. trevon's case is now in the hands of the state's attorney. they'll decide whether or not to bring charges against his killer. and lawyers for the family are asking the department of justice to intervene. but whatever happens in the court we should all remember this -- despite zimmerman having
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injuries consistent with self-defen self-defense, he also had a gun. trevon had a bag of exskittles. his name is trevon martin. when innocent children are killed, at least we can remember killed, at least we can remember their names. ♪ [ male announcer ] offering four distinct driving modes and lexus' dynamic handling, the next generation of lexus will not be contained. the all-new 2013 lexus gs. there's no going back. ♪ the day starts with arthritis pain... a load of new listings... and two pills. after a morning of walk-ups, it's back to more pain, back to more pills. the evening showings bring more pain and more pills.
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incident for 18 years. and senator dianne feinstein took to the senate floor thursday to express her frustration. >> to defeat this bill is almost to say, we don't need to consider violence against women. it's not an important issue. it is. it's not a partisan issue. it never has been in it this body, which is why candidly i'm surprised that i find myself on the floor urging that this bill be brought to the floor. >> republicans are blaming their opposition for new additions to the bill. you know, things that weren't in there before, things that democrats may have added, things like giving money to law enforcement and battered women shelters that serve american indians in rural areas, extending violence protection to same-sex couples, providing protection to undocumented imgrants including a provision that immigrants can claim temporary visas.
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republicans claim these new additions could give tribal courts the authority to bring criminal cases against non-indians. is this mass misogyny or political posturing? it's difficult. both democrats and republicans are fanning the frames through framing. liberals call it the war on women, conservatives call it the war on freedom. i think it's silly to suggest that we can completely take politics out of this discussion because, and i've said this before, women's bodies are inherently political terrain. none of our politicians, liberal nor conservative, are actually solely concerned over women's health and safety, nor can women as a category be squeezed into a single voting bloc. whose issues are these issues? well, these issues are our issues, and our issues transcend party lines and ideologies. here with me at the table, esther armah, host of wvia's wake-up call, brian lehrer, and
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allison kilkenny, a reporter for "the nation." so we were talking about this war on women language. and i keep having sort of multiple anxieties about it. on the one hand, obviously distressed about what is actually going on relative to these policies, but also concern that the war on women language increases the kind of political fervor and partisan fervor rather than getting to a discussion about what is happening here. >> i'm actually okay with calling it a war on women just because virginia is lts eighth state to mandate forced ultima sounds. when you were saying the republicans call it the war on religious freedom. we have to look at who's losing to see who the war is against. women are desperately trying to cling on to the few rights they have. i don't think a war on women is hi hyperbol ick. i think we need to avoid
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temptations to call these republicans crazy or out of touch, even though that's super tempting especially when you look at the all-male birth control panel. the fact that they looked at that and they said, yeah, that's good, that's not crazy. >> that seems to make perfect sense. >> this is good. i mean, that's crazy. but, again, we should avoid calling it so because i actually think this is a somewhat political savvy maneuver where if the gop throws their base red meat and rush limbaugh gets on the radio and says, you know, these feminists are trying to teach you how to live your life, how dare they. that really gets voters out there. it's not just the republicans. the democrats, too, just focusing on women's rights even though it's so important, of paramount importance, they get to avoid talking about other stuff, like the war, like economic disparity, like our incredibly racist prison system or anything like that. so it behooves the political elite they get to avoid talking about any of the other issues. >> absolutely. i totally agree because i do think there is a long sure
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intention that is about framing in preparation for the campaign for the presidency that's very clear. and what the republicans usually are really good at is making everything that is political and complicated and complex simple and black and white. so that it comes down to this, you're with us or against us. this is a war for us to win or it's one for us to lose. and with this issue around women, the democrats are in the unusual position of being able to frame that better for themselves. when it comes to women, you're either with women or you're against them. in that sense, you're either with the democrats or republicans who are not for you. but this week in the "new york times" there were two conservative bodies, one called concerned women for america, who literally said that this act creates an ideology that all men are guilty and all women are victims. then you had town hall.com and a conservative icon saying that this was actually a piece of legislation that promoted divorce, marriage breakup, and that this is against fundamental american ideals.
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so they're shoring up for a fight around the election. >> esther, i want to show you're absolutely right on this notion that this has become part of the political fight. i want to show this democratic senate campaign committee taking full advantage of the war on women framing. this is the new commercial. >> it's an assault on women's health and freedom. and republican candidates for the u.s. senate all across the country are pushing extreme legislation that threatens health care for women. if you don't like what republicans are doing, send a woman to the senate. in fact, send them all. >> that's a great optic. right? all these guys are against you. all of these women who won't be. so you feel that black and white framing, but i guess it's exactly that black and white framing that makes me nervous. allison, you pointed out we can stop talking about economic
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concerns if we're talking about women's rights but part of the limitation, for example, of the vawa, the violence against women act is one of the important elements likely to contribute to women's likelihood of being in a situation of domestic violence is in fact poverty, unemployment, homelessness, subjection of immigration status. it's actually all of the big issues that are the more core issues rather than even vawa, which is mostly focusing on like policing issues. >> the trouble is you don't win elections by exploring those in-depth nuance complicated spaces. there's two challenges. one is that this act and the republicans are saying this, the democrats have literally introduced these additional elements, same-sex couples, an expansion around undocumented folk, in order to create a partisan fight where there need nt necessarily be one. >> it's odd to suggest that extending protections to
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same-sex couples constitutes a wedge issue. why would the extension of protection against violence constitute a wedge issue? >> because you mentioned gay people. just mentioning gay people is itself -- >> we're talking about winning elections. >> and people here illegally. sometimes policy and politics come together. sometimes we need to give credit for people in politics to be there in some cases to actually get something done. i think this is an opportunity for some in the democratic party who really believe that these protections undered violence against women act should be extended to same-sex couples and to people here illegally, this is an opportunity because it does become a wedge issue because same-sex couples are political untouchables to the republicans, but that's becoming a less popular position that the republicans have. so here's an opportunity to maybe win some political points for the democrats but also to actually get something done they really believe is it a good
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thing. >> and it does not always have to be democrats and republicans. we went back and found in 1994 barry goldwater saying this amazing thing referring to conservatives in which he said, conservatives i think i've turned liberal because i believe a woman has a right to an abortion. that's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders on the religious right. this is our friend barry goldwater suggesting that perhaps women's right, in this case not domestic violence, in this case the right to choose, is fundamental. >> this shows us how far to the right this country has strayed. if you go back and watch the old debates of reagan and george bush the first it's unsane if they're debating immigration. if it they tried to say this now during a gop debate, they would be shot on stage. >> maybe not actually, but yes i get it. >> literally. figuratively, too. yeah, it is depressing when you go back not that many years and
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look what republicans were saying. they were saying actually what we would call progressive stuff now about gay people, about immigrants, undocumented citizens and stuff like that, undocumented immigrants. >> i think it's also a question of whose religious liberty. like the contraception issue gets framed to access to birth control rather than religious liberty or versus religious liberty. who really gets the religious liberty in this country? should it be the catholic bishops who report to rome? or should tb the individual american women who can be covered under a universal health care plan with national standards and then make their own religious choices as to what they want to do. >> of course the numbers we saw initially when that contraception debate first hit the stage was that catholic women are both supporters of birth control in general and users of birth control personally. >> absolutely. so what you saw was this divide between religious doctrine and those who are practitioners of that religion. they were out of step.
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so it speaks to your point about whose religious freedom are you talking about. but i think there's another conversation. one of the other arguments that was being made by -- i've been on these conservative blogs all week reading about different perspectives. this represented the violence against women act represented an expansion of government. and because that is the republican narrative, that big government kills economic possibility, kills the fundamental elements that make up the american dream, they're using -- they want to use that framing to establish an argument that they think will find a home in their base. >> government has got to be small enough to squeeze it between your knees like an aspirin. >> that's right. >> so after the break, how the obama administration is trying to calm some of the madness. wa. i'm going to own my own restaurant. when i grow up, i'm going to start a band. [ female announcer ] at aarp
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last night the obama administration filled in more
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details of the president's contraception compromise from february. the department of health and human services listed options for insurance companies to offset the cost of providing birth control for women working at institutions like hospitals and schools with church affiliation. the rule also indicates that religious universities will not have to directly offer students contraception. but those students will be able to get birth control from insurance companies without a co-pay. back with me at the table are esther armah, brian lehrer and allison kilkenny. first i want to bring into the conversation the woman who suddenly found her hadself at the center of the whirlwind of contraception controversy, georgetown law student sandra fluke who joins me from washington. thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me on. >> i really appreciate it. i wanted to start by asking your opinions on the president's compromise here and sort of he's been filling out the outlines of
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it. does this look to you like an appropriate compromise? is there more you'd like to see? >> i'm really happy with what the add mine straigs announced yesterday. it's consistent with the promises the president has made in the past. and the reason i'm so happy with it is i think it delivers on providing women at universities and women who are employed with the affordable access to contraception that they need. that said, i am concerned that some universities and employers will take the opportunity of the one-year potential delay to continue to not adequately provide for their students and their employees' health needs. so that's really what i'm focustifocu focusing on, calling on women at universities across the country to make sure that their voices are heard to it their employers and their universities, that this kind of a delay is not something the university has to do and that their university should hear from them if they don't want that delay.
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>> now, i appreciate so much your point here about having your voice heard. we've been talking a bit about how in this war on women, that part of the issue is we don't get the opportunity to hear women's voices. and it was part of the power of your testimony soy wanted to ask you. there was an article that caught my eye this week in the texas observer called "one woman's ordeal with the texas new sonogram law." obviously you were managing an issue around contraception access. this is about the sonogram law and specifically about a woman who had a pregnancy that she wanted but had to determine it nate it because of a problem in the pregnancy. and because she was at a catholic hospital in texas was put through all sorts of things that are really appalling. as soon as you hear her actual story, this sort of policy becomes real. so you have made these policies real for so many people.
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did you expect to find yourself in it this circumstance? while you're here, what is the voice you want to give? >> i didn't expect things to take this exact course, but it was consistently my goal to make sure women's voices were heard on this issue. and i think there's been too much focus on sort of my personal life and my circumstances and my voice when my focus has always tried to be the experience of a variety of women in different circumstances, women with, you know, low-wage jobs as well as students living off of loans and all of the different ways in which they need affordable access to health care. so, while i'm not familiar with the specific story that you're referencing, i think it's really, really important that there are women who are willing to step forward and talk about how laws and policies affect them. because that really is what our policy debate should be about. >> speaking of that, let me open it up to the table here. i was just sort of spending some time looking at all of the
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state-level challenges to women's rights, pennsylvania's ultrasound law, the new hampshire bill, the arizona birth control bill, the texas sonogram law, the utah sex ed bill. it feels like it's everywhere. how do we focus on these voices and start making these policy proposals real in people's minds? >> well, this is where the role of journalism is really important because i read that article you were referencing and it is so incredibly heartbreaking to hear this woman's story that for the third time that day she had to get a sonogram and the doctor was telling her the same thing that she had heard three times and she started crying. one of the nurses had to turn up music to drown out the sound of the doctor's voice. like that's what we're talking about. and that was an act of journalism, allowing -- active journalism doesn't mean a reporter tells the story all the time. it's allowing a person to tell her own story. she got to tell her own story. the soekd you got to see this policy in real life, suddenly it was like, oh, it hit you directly in the heart. and that's really important.
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we need to stop talking about women as these abstract concepts, these baby vessels. >> right. >> they're human beings and as such a basic human right is to tell your own story. >> it feels like women are just ute rye walking around disembodied from choices and lives and families. >> the power that this woman got to tell her own story is it does what great citizen journalism always does. it depoliticizes something people are use trying to use as a political football. when you're able to hear somebody go through that, this is where it becomes not about a war on women but a conversation about family and humanity and democracy, because the people who love that woman and those who are supporting her, this now becomes a community issue because you're watching someone go through something that is unnecessary that has been politicized an now wants to be legislated by a portion of men for whom this will never be your experience. >> never be real. >> it changes the conversation and it's a game-changer.
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i think that's also the power of that kind of citizen journalism and the evolution of journalism in so far as her voice takes a front page space. and sadly because of rush limbaugh's attack on sandra fluke kind of succeeds in making it open to the kind of scrutiny that allows that voice to be front page news as opposed to hidden somewhere back in the back of the newspaper. >> i'm glad to hear the guidelines announced last night, which i hadn't heard before, so if i understood you correctly, also includes students at catholic universities. >> yes. >> i work with somebody who is a student at a catholic university. and she was distressed that the debate that we had been having only had to do with employees of the university when she as a student was not covered for contraception under the health care plan at the school. so now it looks like that issue is being engaged, too. >> yeah. sandra, i want to end this segment with you. on exactly this question of students and sort of the role of student voices here. so where will young women end up
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standing in this question? i know for me the students i teach are constantly surprised this is even part of the political agenda tand conversation right now. >> yeah. i think for a lot of women of the millennial generation or young women it's surprising that contraception is this controversial. and i think they as young primarily sexually active women realize how essential it is to their health care both for preventing pregnancy and for other types of medical needs. so i've heard from hundreds of them, and it seems very clear that they understand what this policy is about and are going to make their voices heard on the policy being implemented immediately so that women can have the health care they need as soon as possible. >> sandra fluke, thank you so much for joining us and thank you also to brian lehrer and allison kilkenny. next, the international shaming of american democracy and why your rights may be at risk.
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now it's time for the eve enlightening round. all eyes are on illinois's open primary as voters are getting ready to cast their ballots. but how open is american voting? it may be getting much more closed as a result of voter identification laws. supporters claim these policies reduce voter fraud. what they do in reality is suppress the turnout of identifiable groups. now, this past week brought news on the issue in three states. in texas where on monday the obama administration blocked a new law that requires voters to show a government-issued photo i.d., texas governor rick parry argues, what's the big deal? it's just a driver's license or a passport. the big deal is this -- according to the advancement project, if the law stands it would impact and possibly disenfranchise more than 600,000 already registered voters in texas who don't have that kind
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of document. in wisconsin early this week, a judge declared the state's photo i.d. law unconstitutional saying that voter fraud is no more poisonous in our democrat than voter compression. after the governor of wisconsin scott walker signed the law into effect, it was challenged in court in part on behalf of this woman, betty jones. the 76-year-old has voted since 1956. and guess what, she doesn't have a wisconsin state photo i.d. in fact, she doesn't even have a birth certificate because segregation prevented her from being born at a hospital. so the wisconsin judge's decision was a win for mrs. jones, but despite these victories, both cases face ongoing legal challenges. and the legislative virus is spreading. pennsylvania became the 16th state to enact a photo i.d. law when republican governor tom corbett signed hb-934 into law thursday. according to an estimate by the
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advancement project, 800,000 people of voting age in pennsylvania lack the proper i.d., and that's in a key battleground state where president obama's margin of victory in 2008 was just more than 620,000 votes. remember, voter i.d. laws disproportionately impact certain groups. according to the nyu brennan center for justice, 11% of eligible voters lack government-issued i.d., but that number rises to 25% among african-americans, 16% of latinos and 18% of senior citizens. frustrated by injustices at home? this week the naacp took action making a case in geneva to the united nations. you heard it right, an appeal to the u.n. more on that when we come back.
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even a country of laws is not above the law. at least that's what the naacp is hoping. on wednesday an naacp delegation traveled to geneva, switzerland to make the case before the united nations that voter i.d. laws approved in 31 u.s. states, all there on that map, violate human rights by suppressing the vote and voice of millions of american citizens who disproportionately are people of color. it's a long way to travel to present evidence in a case where they already know the outcome because, according to article i section 7 of the united nations charter, nothing in the charter thal allow the united nations to intervene in the jurisdiction of any state. which the naacp knows full well because the real reason they're speaking to the u.n. is to send a message to the u.s. it's actually an old power move that the naacp is pulling from its own playbook. forcing the issue at home by making a global spectacle and a
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national shame. in 1947, the naacp submitted a petition titled "an appeal to the world," asking the united nations to redress human rights violations committed by the united states against black citizens. naacp co-founder w.e.b. deboyce wrote an introduction to the petition saying, peoples of the world, we american negroes appeal to you. our treatment in america is not merely an intern question of the united states. it is a basic problem of humanity of democracy, of discrimination because of race and color and as such it demands your attention and action. more than six decades later, a voice from our past using a well-worn strategy to address an issue that is still very much part of our present. back with me now, esther armah and joining her now is mun na perez, a senior counselor for the brennan center for justice. lovely to have you. i want to ask you about this
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international strategy, one that is old but now has new resonance. can this work? can the naacp going to the u.n. pressure the u.s.? >> i think what's important to remember is that in this country the right to vote is fundamental. we have a historical arc, a moral trajectory, if it were, of expanding the franchise and the world looks to us to be dog that. and what we have seen in recent times, very, very recent times, is a radical part t departure from that proud history of making our body politic more participatory and more inclusive. we have a wave of state laws all across the country that could make it harder for up to 5 million eligible americans to vote. and beyond that, we have a full frontal assault on one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in our history, the voting rights act, which has served as an important bulwark against improper state action. >> i want to pause there because i do not want to miss that point. a lot of us have been talking about the voter i.d. laws, but it's not clear to me that people
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understand that the 1965 voting rights act, because the federal government is now bringing some challenges in the states that may end up at the supreme court, the 1965 voting rights act itself may be in jeopardy? >> i want to be clear to say that i actually don't think that it's in jeopardy. it has been historically upheld every time it's been challenged. it has been carefully considered. it was reauthorized with unanimous bipartisan support. >> so we're going to hope it's not like the debt ceiling and the violence against women act? there's an awful lot of precedent these days for things that were normally fine suddenly falling apart. >> that's right. but the concern that i see is the attack that is happening on a bunch of different fronts. we have challenges in a bunch of different states. everyone is jockeying to try to be the first one to go to the supreme court. and when we're talking about the fundamental right to vote, this is not something that should be
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at issue. this is something that we as a nation have already said is important to us as a country. we have enshrined it in very specific parpts of our constitution. it's part of our moral fabric. >> esther on this question of moral fabric, i want to make an international point here. i want to go back to 1964, before passage of the voting rights act, and listen to malcolm x who asked the organization of african unity to intercede at the u.n. on behalf of blacks in america. i just want to listen to this and remember the importance of this international aspect. >> the problem number one of the black man in america is beyond america's ability to solve. it's a human problem, not an american or negro problem. as a human problem or world problem, we feel it should be taken out of the jurisdiction of the united states government and the united states courts and taken into the united nations. >> so, esther, weigh in here on the kind of international aspect
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of this question of human rights for african-americans. >> absolutely. because i think the naacp going to the u.n. is a proactive strategic move that would work very well in its favor because the u.n. is kind of this tool of shame. it works in making nations come to a table that they reluctantly would otherwise not come to. it was used in apart hide very successfully as a way of elevating a cause that might have fell local or within the nation to something that was global. but secondly i think it's an important conversation about framing. because just as we talked about the argument around the issue with women is about framing and politicizing something that is so personal and so intimate, with this challenge of voter i.d. i think's the same thing because actually it's going to be framed on the republican side as, well, if you're not doing anything fraudulent, why are you going to mind showing i.d.? it's that success in making
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something that is more complicated black and white that is dangerous for the challenge that is happening. but on the pro side, actually, what is really about is the shrinking of democracy. it's a conversation about the humanizing of a nation and the democratizing of a nation and an attack on that. i think the voting act could be in trouble. >> on this question of shrinking or expanding democracy, we're going to bring into the conversation kendall smith padia. she is an american activist who went to the u.n., but she is not allowed to vote. we're going to talk about that after the break. i love that my daughter's part fish. but when she got asthma, all i could do was worry ! specialists, lots of doctors, lots of advice... and my hands were full. i couldn't sort through it all. with unitedhealthcare, it's different. we have access to great specialists, and our pediatrician gets all the information. everyone works as a team. and i only need to talk to one person about her care.
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report says those numbers make the united states one of only two countries who disenfranchise citizens for indefinite periods of time after they've completed their sentence. i'm talking this morning to one of those people. kemba smith pradia who served 6 1/2 years in a connecticut prison for a nonviolent drug charge before being freed by an executive order by president clinton. she's now the author of "poster child," part of the naacp delegation who went to geneva to testify before the united nations about voting rights in the u.s. she joins us from indianapolis. also at the table with me are radio hostess their armah and myrna perez from the brennan center of justice. i want to turn to you, kemba. it is a real privilege to have an opportunity to speak with you. thank you for being here. >> thank you so much for having me. >> so i want to ask you, my understanding is that you are making a choice to move from indianapolis back to virginia, and in making the choice to move
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back to virginia that means that you are now going to a state where you will be disenfranchised. is that correct? >> that is correct, despite me being able to vote in indiana in 2010. >> so you went to the u.n. with the naacp in part to talk about this issue. is thaekt that correct? >> yes, it is. >> tell me about that xpeefrns. why the choice to go and why is this issue of voting rights such an important part of the advocacy work that you have been doing. >> well, number one, since my release it's been important for me to continue to speak out about certain injustices revo e revolving around the war on drugs and current policy on sentencing and organizations such as the naacp and particularly the legal defense fund who represented me pro bono was responsible for me receiving executive clemency. so even while i was incarcerated there was a u.n. representative,
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special represent wa tore, who came to speak on domestic violence who wanted to know about abuses within the prison. i was able to share my thoughts with her and then coming out and having this opportunity presented to me, i felt as if i needed to continue to speak out for those that are impacted by these policies and disenfranchisement laws. >> kemba, your story was one that i followed very closely, that so many of us did. it's so critical. i want to turn to you, myrna, on this. this idea that kemba can vote in one state but not in another. that there are these different state laws and we were talking a bit about this notion that it ends up being a self-disenfranchising. in other words, because e ex-felons don't always know whether in their state it they can vote, often they don't snow up to register. >> what happens is because we have a patch work of state policies you have some states like virginia where it doesn't matter what you did, how long
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ago it was, how old you were, if you have a felony conviction in your past, you are unable to vote unless you are specifically pardoned. then you have states like maine and vermont where you're allowed to vote from prison. and when you have that kind of pat patchwork, people run into trouble about knowing what their actual state law is. for example, in new york you can vote if you're on probation but not if you're on parole. that leads to a great deal of confusion among many. so having this uncertainty and this patchwork of policy leads to people believing that they are not eligible to vote, even if state law permits them to do so. >> so we end up, you know -- we were talking before this notion of the expanding democracy, if we want to tell the great american story, a story of expanding democracy. and i think here, kemba, about how important your voice is to us, kemba, and the idea that what you've experienced, whether
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it's around questions of domestic violence or questions of incarceration, and the idea that you would not have a voice at the ballot box just seems appalling. when i look at you to imagine that you are not a full citizen in the state of virginia. >> it's very frustrating. and i remember in the 2008 elections i took my son to various polls just so he could see the differences in what side of town you lived in. but actually after i took him to school and i sat at home, you know, having to explain to him that i couldn't vote and i felt so different from everyone else, where i still felt upset and felt as if i still did something wrong, when i had already served my debt to society with being incarcerated and actually to have president clinton release me from federal prison and still not have this basic human right where the only individuals that fall in that category are disabled people or minors. so it is quite alarming for me
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to realize that i still face this beast again coming up in this election in 2012. so i'm hoping that -- i know that what was mentioned about the inconsistency and people not knowing exactly what the process is or if they're eligible or not, in the state of virginia, it requires that you get off of supervised release, which i was on supervised release for five years, and then there's a waiting period after that, three to five years. and if you have a nonviolent offense it's three years, a violent offense it's five years. if you have a drug case, you automatically fall within the five years so i wasn't able to get my rights restored until the year 2010. and then i moved in 2009 due to marriage to the state of indiana where i was able to vote. and i wasn't even sure if i was going to be able to vote. i figured i would just go ahead and register and see what happened. but we'll see what happens when i go to virginia but i definitely wanted the opportunity to represent the millions in letting our voices
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be heard about this particular issue. >> esther, i wanted to turn to you on this. part of what i hear that's so compelling is this larnguage about dehumanizing of disenfranchisement, this idea of not being able to vote means you're less a part of the system. >> absolutely. you're literally dedemocratizing people, taking away their rights, but you're also not just dehumanizing them, which when you think about the history of african-americans in this country, that word dehuman zation has a very important reality, physical reality but you're also talking about winning elections because the reality is, in 2008 when then-senator now-president barack obama won, when they looked at the numbers game of who turned out, huge numbers of african-americans, huge numbers of those who are now becoming part of the occupy wall street movement. and so despite the evidence that
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this kind of element of from the republicans saying that it's about eliminating rotor fraud, despite the evidence that that is such a tiny reality, they have legitimized that fear. and in doing so are really thinking about, what's it going to take to win this election. i think it's several conversation, the dehumanization, the history of what african-americans have gone through to get to this space, the shrinking of democracy, and the politicizing of winning. >> right. because 2008 is this massive expansive, like, higher percentages of people of color, of latinos, of young people. >> absolutely. >> and one way to win is to have better ideas and better candidates. another way to win is to actually reduce the number of people who are available there to vote for your opponent. >> absolutely. >> kemba, i want to give you one last word on this. if you had one thing or when you went to the u.n., sort of the one piece that you want all of us as viewers to walk away with,
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like ten seconds on that. >> just the impact of meeting with high officials from other countries and seeing their deep concern and kind of disbelief that this it willy goes on in our count rry, and i know the delegation met with the south african ambassador and they're actually willing to incorporate language and a resolution that discusses the fact that barring people who have felony convictions go against free and democracy of what we represent as a country. >> thank you so much for joining us, and we're going have more in just a moment. >> thank you. >> thank you, but first a preview of "weekends with alex witt." alex? >> let's get to it. the soldier accused of killing afghan civilians what's next for him and the u.s. overall, will
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use and some new weekends as gop contenders face a few more big votes this week, but will it meet the end of the road for everyone? >> the co-office of game change is an incident that happened 16 years ago in st. patrick's day that inspired him. plus it's the st. patrick's day edition of the big three. we'll be asking the political panel about green beer and the candidates for president. think you can handle all of that, melissa? >> thank you, alex. >> thank you to esther arman and meredith perez. how one college freshman is helping survivors of sexual assault overcoming trauma. the . the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪
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i must admit when i think of this week's foot soldier i can't help, but think of tom corbett. it doesn't first make sense
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without introducing grace brown. she's a student at the school of visual arts and has a unique grasp on the power of images to help survivors of sexual assault. she is asking them to go deep within where they've buried the words of their attack eers. those words resurface on project unbreakable. grace does this by photographing survivors holding signs featuring the words of the perpetrators. words like this ranging from the violence to the seemingly benign. they're been taking up space in the memories of these survivors since the attack, but grace started the site last october by photographing and collecting the stories of those she knew and it has evolved into a place where survivors work to reclaim their power by purging themselves of words once used to shame, to coerce and to intimidate them.
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one survivor ashley ray talked about her experience with project dney australia morning . she says i am in a place where i can feel proud to be part of something that has healed me and is healing others. truly grateful every time i see that picture. it's a piece of me that is no longer hiding in shame and guilt. it's a beautiful scar. what does this have to do with governor corbett? certainly, he is not a sexual assault perpetrator, but he is backing a measure meant to shame, coerce and intimidate women in his state the governor supports an invasive -- here's how governor corbett responded when he was asked about that on wednesday. >> i don't know how you make anybody watch, okay? because you just have to close your eyes. see how that sounds, governor
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corbett? it's not okay to coerce and violate a woman and then tell her to just close her eyes. we invite you to learn more about this week's foot soldier and the interview with grace brown. and that is our show for today. i will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern where we will try to figure out why mitt romney can't figure out to put things away. coming up "ec wooend "weekends witt." i get congested. my eyes itch. i have to banish you to the garden. but now, with zyrtec-d®, i have the proven allergy relief of zyrtec®, plus a powerful decongestant. ♪ i can breath freer with zyrtec-d®. so i'll race you to our favorite chair. i might even let you win. zyrtec-d® lets me breath easier, so i can love the air. [ male announcer ] zyrtec-d®. behind the pharmacy counter.
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